How to sell your house Selling a house - stress busters

Stressed woman sits in empty house surrounded by paperwork

Follow our expert tips to reduce the stress of selling a house

Selling a house can be stressful, especially as you're likely to be buying one at the same time. Here, we share expert tips to make selling your property easier.

Seven out of 10 respondents to our 2015 national property survey told us they found selling their home to be a stressful experience. The process will probably be smoother if you...

Speak to a mortgage adviser as early as possible

Before even putting your property on the market, you should know how much you'll be able to afford to spend on your new home. While online mortgage calculators can give you a rough idea, it's worth speaking to a mortgage adviser for an accurate guide to how much you could borrow.

Unlike many brokers, the experts at Which? Mortgage Advisers will look at every available deal on the market - not just those paying the highest commission. Our team are paid proper salaries, so you can rest assured that they will only ever recommend the very best mortgage for your personal circumstances.

  • Call the team for a free chat on 0808 252 7987. Their expert guidance, both before and after you apply for your mortgage, could help prevent a lot of stress further down the line.

Get an estate agent that delivers

Finding a great estate agent is key for sellers. Don't hire an agent just because they've promised to get you the highest selling price, or are offering the lowest fee. 

Ask about the number of buyers on their books - particularly the types of people that are likely to be interested in your house, such as a family or professionals - and the amount of houses like yours they've sold recently. 

  • Our guide to finding the best estate agent explains all the things to look out for and includes a downloadable checklist on the questions to ask before you hire anyone to sell your house.

Don't scrimp on services

It's not a great idea to automatically choose the cheapest conveyancer or property solicitor. The best professionals will sometimes cost more but with a transaction worth tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds, the extra expense is often worth it. 

Ideally, hire someone recommended by a friend or family member (take recommendations from your estate agent with a pinch of salt as they'll usually receive commission for referrals). Make sure the person you choose has time to take on your case: if they're already overrun with work this may slow down the process.

Get your conveyancer sorted as soon as you put your house up for sale. That way they can start collating the necessary paperwork right away, which will speed things up.

  • We know that it can be hard to know where to start when looking for a conveyancer. That's why we've teamed up with a national law firm that we believe offers a conveyancing service you can trust. Find out more about Which? Conveyancing.

Vet your buyer 

When someone makes an offer on your property always ask your estate agent about their situation, as it can make a big difference to when you actually move house.

If they're a chain-free first-time buyer you may be able to move more quickly. There will be less chance of things collapsing as fewer parties will be involved. Check whether they have a mortgage in principle as this will prove that they can definitely borrow enough money to buy your property.

Whether your buyer is a first-timer or not, find out when they want to exchange and complete, and whether they're in a hurry for any reason - for example, a new job or pregnancy.

All these questions will help you establish whether that buyer will fit with your timeline and offer something more valuable than money: peace of mind and minimal fuss. If there are multiple offers on the table, choosing the buyer who is most obviously ready and keen to move may be a wiser decision than automatically picking the highest bidder.

Your estate agent should be able to offer advice on which buyer to choose, but they only get paid if the property sells. Don't let them push you into a decision you're not entirely comfortable with.

  • Set a realistic price for your property with our guide to house prices

Lessen the pain of a property chain

The average property chain in England and Wales features three properties. Your sale can only progress at the speed of the slowest link in the chain.

A third of all buyers pull out after having an offer accepted, which can cause serious delays in the chain or even make it collapse entirely. There are no guaranteed ways to prevent this from happening, but you can try and make it less likely.

Before signing up with an estate agent, check whether they will carefully vet buyers. Once you've accepted an offer, will they chase your chosen buyer's mortgage lender or broker regarding offers, and the conveyancers about paperwork? Some estate agents are better at doing this than others.

If you're really determined not to become part of a chain, you could buy a new-build home from a developer offering part exchange, where they buy your property and there's no upward chain. 

Get tasks done well in advance

Being organised and not having to rush through any tasks at the last minute is a great way to help reduce stress. 

Complete any necessary DIY work on your house before putting it on the market. Also make sure you have access to all the information and paperwork you'll need throughout the sales process.  

The sooner these tasks are completed, the less chance there is of a last-minute job threatening to delay your move. 

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Last updated:

February 2016

Updated by:

Stephen Maunder

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.